Report: Employers lack assessment on leadership capacity

Updated: 2013-07-18 05:45

By Shi Jing in Shanghai (China Daily)

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Report: Employers lack assessment on leadership capacity

Less than half of employers formally assess leadership, making it difficult to understand current capability, where gaps exist and how leadership can be improved, according to a report released by a global talent solutions company in late June.

Of the 816 surveyed Chinese employers, more than one quarter of the respondents said the greatest shortcoming was poor people management followed closely by poor decision-making.

"Today's unpredictable environment necessitates quick decision-making. So it's often challenging for leaders to consult and communicate with their teams although it's essential that time is allowed for this," said Bi Lin, joint general manager of Hudson Shanghai, the company who worked on the report.

One-third of the respondents said that lacking a clear vision and direction is the most common reason for a leader to derail an organization, followed by poor collaboration within an organization.

"Employees are looking for leaders to be able to understand and guide them through a complex environment, and this can only be achieved by having close relationships, understanding what is happening within the business and altering course through consultative decision making," Bi said.

Over 60 percent of the surveyed employers said that the best leaders develop a vision and inspire people to buy into it.

"Involving teams in the direction and decision-making process is key to achieving both understanding and buy-in," Bi said. "Perceptions around a lack of clear vision or direction often arise when there is a lack of alignment between leaders and employees. Leaders cannot create a strategy and vision in isolation and need input and support from their teams."

According to Hudson experts successful leaders know how to set the vision and inspire others to act, they have strong interpersonal skills and are open and responsive to others' perspectives.

Behavioral forms of assessment are the best way to understand current capability, according to the report. These assessments include psychometric tools to examine individuals' leadership traits and capabilities; assessing individuals' behavior through observation, simulation or leadership development centers; and measuring how their behavior is perceived in the workplace by using 360-degree feedback.

"Once leadership capability gaps are established, organizations can bridge these via effective, multi-dimensional leadership programs and strategies, which have a heavy focus on action-based learning," Bi said. "Hudson also recommends support from coaches who promote self-awareness and behavioral change, and mentors who can provide advice and act as a sounding board."

"Leaders with a clear vision, who consult and communicate with their teams, can maximize opportunities in an unpredictable world," she said.

(China Daily 07/18/2013 page17)